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Objects matter. Here’s what Melinda Gates, DeRay McKesson, and Travon Free value most of all

The world is ending. What’s the one thing you take with you?

[Image: Running Press Adult]

Authors Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax put a similar question to 150 people, many of whom you know (Melinda Gates, Joss Whedon, Travon Free, DeRay Mckesson), and many of whom you don’t (a music box repairman in California, a radiology tech at a men’s prison in Texas). Their answers, compiled in the moving new book What We Keep (Running Press Adult, 2018), offer a meditation on the distinctly human need to find meaning in the inanimate. “Of the more than 300 people we spoke with, not one chose an object because of its dollar value,” Shapiro writes. “What Naomi and I came to see is that these bottle openers and bullets, these playing cards, letters, and lockets not only crystallize core truths about each of us but also help us tell the stories of our life, even explain our life to ourselves. And for that reason, they’re priceless.”

See which belongings eight public figures selected in our slideshow above.

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